In this module students explore the risks of buying online and false or misleading offers and scams. They recognise the importance of getting information before making a financial decision.

Learning outcomes:

  • Students recognise the rules and regulations of consumer protection in a variety of contexts.
  • Students explore consumer protection in an authentic context.

Key concepts:

  • Consumer
  • Rights
  • Responsibilities
  • Laws and regulations
  • Consumer protection

Conceptual understanding:

  • Both consumers and retailers have rights and responsibilities.
  • Financial decision-making is influenced by local and global markets and advertising and affects the community.
  • Consumer protection rules and regulations cover goods and services purchased in New Zealand.

Word wall

Subject-specific vocabulary in module 4 includes:

Te reo PākēhaTe reo Māori
informed whaimōhio
review  arotakenga
fraud  hara taware
website  pae tukutuku
A person with a good eye for detail  kanohi hōmiromiro

1. Trick or truth?

Discuss with the class how, even after searching for information and making careful purchasing decisions, things can still go wrong. Scams and tricks will always be with us – think of Jack and the Beanstalk – so what can we do to avoid them?

Split the class into 3 “fraud squad” teams, with each team responsible for investigating one area of tricky retail territory:

  • False or misleading advertising
  • Online or private traders
  • Online shopping.

Have each team complete investigate these issues.

  • Can advertisers try to mislead consumers? Although there are strict legal guidelines, some advertisers can find ways around them to attract unwary customers. Check both contract and prepay information about call plans.
  • Are specific advertising techniques used to attract consumers? Check where products are placed, the size of the fonts used in advertising text, the colours used in advertising text, and the actors or celebrities used to advertise products.
  • Identify how advertisements draw consumers in. Discover the “fine print”, often text in a smaller font placed at the bottom of an advertisement or on another page of a flyer or catalogue.
  • Identify claims that are exaggerated. Consider whether this product will really do what the advertisement claims.
  • Do the images match the reality?
  • Are there any hidden costs?

Students can be “deal spies” and spot differences in the way the same product is displayed, described, and sold on different websites or catalogues.

Have each fraud squad arrange for an expert from a relevant organisation to speak to their class or the wider school community.

2. Buying from online auction sites

Online auction sites are popular outlets for buying second-hand goods. Discuss with the class ways we can lessen any risks when buying online.

Present this scenario.

Ruthie is selling her smartphone on Trade Me and describes it as a popular and expensive brand. Ramesh buys the phone for $300 but finds out when he gets it that it is in fact a counterfeit brand, worth only $100. What can Ramesh do?

Viewing the resources below, students can investigate this case for Ramesh and find out how to put it right.

Watch the Commerce Commissions series ‘It’s all good’: Episode 8 - Herman meets his match.

Viewing this video and these websites below, students can investigate this case for Ramesh and find out how to put it right.

As Ramesh was misled, he can cancel the sale and ask for a refund from Ruthie directly. He can also get assistance from Trade Me to resolve the issue and place feedback on the seller. If he has no success, he can make a claim to the Disputes Tribunal.

Ask the class: Would the same rules apply had Ramesh purchased the cell phone from a post on a neighbourhood FaceBook page?

Discuss with the class the notion of digital citizenship. What responsibilities do we have as digital citizens to present things fairly and accurately on digital sites? What other links can we identify between digital citizenship and consumer protection?

3. Buying online

Discuss buying online from overseas traders with the class.

Ask the students:

  • What are your favourite online retailers and why?
  • Are there any sites you don’t shop at? If so, why?

Have the students in small groups develop advice and guidelines for buying a cell phone online from an overseas retailer. Their guidelines should include:

  • information about price compare sites
  • information about review sites
  • how to find out about companies selling phones
  • how to tell if a website is secure for loading personal and credit card details
  • the possibilities of redress should a transaction go wrong
  • duty and taxes that must be paid on international purchases.

home learningHome Learning: Encourage the students to discuss their learning at home. Have them, with their whanāu, develop three strategies they can use before buying an expensive item, to avoid making a mistake.

Extension activity

Students may add to their work by also investigating consumer rights and potential pitfalls when buying phone apps. They can investigate:

  • terms and conditions
  • ongoing or hidden costs
  • privacy implications
  • giving up data.

Links to Te Reo and Tikanga Māori

Students can investigate the principles of manaakitanga and whanaungatanga. They can consider:

  • In what ways are these principles not upheld when people mislead or deceive others?
  • How could our consumer protection laws better uphold these principles?